GENEVA, Ill. — NHL Draft prospect and Chicago Steel forward Brannon McManus scored his first of the postseason to tie the game, and then his second to untie the game, en route to a 4-3 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday night at the Fox Valley Ice Arena. The Steel lead the series 1-0.
The Steel outshot the Saints 20-10 in the final frame, and caught fire as soon as Dubuque took a two-goal lead. Eric MacAdams struck early for the Saints, just 42 seconds into the third, on a 3-on-2 break. Scott Corbett added to the lead on a broken play that found paydirt.
The Saints have never scored fewer than three goals against Steel goaltender Ales Stezka in a game this season. However, the three goals were not enough. First, it was Jack Badini who broke through just over a minute after Corbett’s tally on the power play, which cut the lead to one. Then, it was McManus’ first tally of the night on a slick cross-ice setup.
Six minutes after his first, he got some help from teammate Mitch Lewandowski on a defensive zone turnover, and converted on the rebound off of Jaxon Castor’s pads en route to the go-ahead goal.
The two other goals on the night happened in quick fashion in the second period. Following a marvelous save by Stezka at one end, Reggie Lutz converted on the rebound at the other end following a Jake Jaremko shot to make it 1-0 Steel. It took just over three minutes for the Fighting Saints to respond, thanks to Quinn Preston on a breakaway.
Castor made 29 saves in the loss, in which he made many outrageous saves on the night to give the Saints a chance to win. Stezka was his equal, stopping 23 shots on the night.
Dubuque was unable to dent Chicago’s penalty kill on three opportunities. The Steel have not allowed a power play goal in the postseason. The Steel went 1-for-4.
These two teams go back at it on Saturday, April 29 for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final at the Fox Valley Ice Arena. Catch all of the action on Dubuque’s Super Hits 106.1 FM, or on the USHL’s streaming video provider, HockeyTV.